January 31, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Now we have quite another kind of ice. It has rained hard, converting into a very thin liquid the snow which had fallen on the old ice, and this, having frozen, has made a perfectly smooth but white snow ice. It is white like polished marble (I call it marble ice), and the trees and hill are reflected in it, as not in the other….


Surely the ice is a great and absorbing phenomenon. Consider how much of the surface of the town it occupies, how much attention it monopolizes! We do not commonly distinguish more than one kind of water in the river, but what various kinds of ice there are!

January 30, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The winter, cold and bound out, as it is, is thrown to us like a bone to a famishing dog, and we are expected to get the marrow out of it…But the winter was not given to us for no purpose. We must thaw its cold with our genialness. We are tasked to find out and appropriate all the nutriment it yields.

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If it is a cold and hard season, its fruit no doubt is the more concentrated and nutty. It took the cold and bleakness of November to ripen the walnut, but the human brain is the kernel which the winter itself matures.

January 29, 1841

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Men lie behind the barrier of a relation as effectually concealed as the landscape by a mist; and when at length some unforeseen accident throws me into a new attitude toward them, I am astounded as if for the first time I saw the sun on the hillside.


January 27, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I do not know but thoughts written down thus in a journal might be printed in the same form with greater advantage than if the related ones were brought together into separate essays. They are now allied to life, and are seen by the reader not to be far-fetched. It is….less artificial. I feel that in the other case I should have no proper frame for my sketches. Mere facts and names and dates communicate more than we suspect. Whether the flower looks better in the nosegay than in the meadow where it grew, and we had to wet our feet to get it! Is the scholastic air any advantage?


January 26

in Thoreau’s Journal:
In winter we will think brave, hardy, and most native thoughts. Then the tender summer birds are flown.

In few countries do they enjoy so fine a contrast of summer and winter. We really have four seasons, each incredible to the other. Winter cannot be mistaken for summer here. Though I see the boat turned up on the shore, and half buried under snow, as I walk over the invisible river, summer is far away with its rustling reeds.

in Thoreau’s Journal
It is surprising how much room there is in nature if a man will follow his proper path.

January 25, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:


…I looked back from the top of hill into this deep dell, where the white pines stood thick, rising one above another, reflecting the sunlight, so soft and warm by contrast with the snow, as never in summer, for the idea of warmth prevailed over the cold which the snow suggested, though I saw through and between them to a distant snow-clad hill…I was on the verge of seeing something, but I did not. If I had been alone, and had had more leisure, I might have seen something to report.

January 23, 1854

 in Thoreau’s Journal:


The increased length of the days is very observable of late. What is a winter unless you have risen and gone abroad frequently before sunrise and by starlight.

January 20

in Thoreau’s Journal:



Here, where you cannot walk at all in the summer, is better walking than elsewhere in the winter.




In certain places, standing on their snowiest side, the woods were incredibly fair, white as alabaster….I doubt if I can convey an idea of the appearance of the woods yesterday.

January 19, 1841

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

When we are amiable, then is love in the gale, and in sun and shade, and day and night; and to sigh under the cold, cold moon for a love unrequited is to put a slight upon nature; the natural remedy would be to fall in love with the moon and the night, and find our love requited.


January 16, 1859

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

There is a good deal of ice on the north sides of woods and in and about the sheltered swamps.


As we go southwestward through the cassandra hollows toward the declining sun, they look successively both by their form and color, like burnished silvery shields in the midst of which we walked, looking toward the sun.

January 15, 1857

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Cold as the weather is and has been, almost all the brook is open in the meadow there, an artery of black water in the midst of the snow, and there are many sink-holes, where the water is exposed at the bottom of dimple in the snow. Indeed, in some places these little black spots are distributed very thickly, the snow in swells covering the intervening tussocks.


January 14, 1859

in Thoreau’s Journal:

This forenoon I walk up the Assabet to see it. The hemlocks are perhaps a richer sight than any tree. –– such Christmas trees, thus, sugared, as were never seen. On one side you see more or less greenness,


but when you stand due north they are unexpectedly white and rich, so beautifully still, and then you look under them you see some great rock, or rocks, all hoary with the same, and a finer frost on the very fine dead hemlock twigs there and on hanging roots and twigs, quite like the cobwebs in a grist-mill covered with meal, –– and it implies a stillness like that; or it is like the lightest down glued on.

January 13, 1860

in Thoreau’s Journal:


The surface of the snow, now that the sun has shone on it so long, is not so light and downy, almost impalpable, as it was yesterday, but is somewhat flattened down and looks even as if had had a skim-coat of whitewash. I can see sparkles on it, but they are finer than at first and therefore less dazzling.